This is supposed to be the toughest year of college, and in terms of intellectual growth that rings true. Although personal/social growth would also top this list if not for my Junior year. That comes later however.
I suppose I was a bit scared about going to college and living in an 8’ x 14’ room with someone I had never met before and sharing another room with two other people I had never met before. Actually, perhaps I was quite scared, or even terrified. Needless to say, my lifestyle was not suited to that of my roommates. I did not have a fake ID, nor did I drink. at all. I also liked my sleep, 8 hours if I could get it. My roommate Mike Lane and my other quadmates John Antonucci and Paul Buser were all business majors, whilst I was an Arts & Letters major. Business majors have it easiest here at Notre Dame in regard to class difficulty and course work (with the possible exception of the Sociology Dept.) and they would often throw impromptu parties 2 or 3 times a week. On nights when they didn’t have parties they often went to the Boat Club and stumbled back usually at 5 in the morning. This happened pretty much the whole year.
On top of this, my roommate, who drank at least 5 times a week, and skipped most of his classes most of the time sleeping off the alcohol managed to swing a 4.0 his first semster, while I struggled with chemistry and calculus and got a 2.7.
As for the other freshmen in my section I was the only A&L major. 14 total freshmen, 3 pre-med, 1 engineering, 1 A&L, and 9 business majors. The upperclassmen consisted to a great majority of sophomores who were nice but had their own things to do, some juniors who I never even talked to, and a group of seniors who I owe quite a bit to.
The football games took a bit of getting used to, but here I knew what to do, hiding in plain sight covered in blue and gold body paint with a bright blue wig. The seats were in the corner as is usual for freshmen, but we were also the heart from whence all spirit was pumped. Bob Davie was the unfortunate coach at this time. He sucks. The tailgating before the games was not great fun however, drinking drinking drinking everywhere. Was there nothing else to do at ND?
I struggled with this, even to the point of considering a transfer to a state school where it was easier to get off campus, where many off campus places are geared toward the students and to where I wouldn’t feel as pressured to drink, and to where the gender relations would be something approaching normal for college students. Apparently, that didn’t happen — although perhaps it did in an alternate universe.
The seniors Jes s Morales, Liam Thidemann, and AJ Boyd, and my RA Joe Hyder had a great deal to do with pulling me out of my shell. There was this nasty concoction that the DH would serve about once every two weeks called Toad-In-The-Hole. I will not describe it suffice to say it was horrendous. Each time it was served I would smuggle out one more than the last time and present them to my RA in creative ways (ex: The Blair Toad Project). He had no idea who it was until someone snitched. But it was all in good fun. The seniors who deshelled me to some extent did so when one day Jes s noticed that I had a Magic deck. He also played. and from there it was downhill.
We started playing magic, which led to Starcraft, which led to me allowing them to set me up for the Chariot Race dance. Which led to me meeting Brian Johnsen. Which led me to meeting Brian Stone, who when I expressed an interest in learning to fence agreed to teach me to do so, as he was the assistant coach of the fencing team. So its a good thing I played Magic or I would be a totally different person today.
I also made a friend from out east named Abby. I met her through AIM and she came out to visit me on her spring break and I reciprocated once the school year ended. I last spoke with her during this last summer but perhaps she still reads this.
Other notable things that happened my freshman year: I saw the Smashing Pumpkins for the first time at Purdue University where I visited my friends Brian Rose, David Ledman, and Bo Ledman and met his soon to be wife Kerri. I lost my virginity. I learned what a glorious thing Stolichnaya vodka can be. I made friends with Meagan Call. I downloaded my first mp3 using Napster. I decided to be roommates in a double (glorious! more room!) with the lone engineer in the section, Mike Castorano. I successfully walked on to the Notre Dame Fencing Team. I ate at both Bibler’s Pancake House and CJ’s Pub in the same day.